What you need to know
- An email app developer says Apple has been suppressing the rankings of App Store apps that compete with Apple's own software.
- Blix, developer of BlueMail made the accusation in a court filing today, December 20.
- It points to an unexpected jump in the App Store rankings when it moved from 143 to 13 at the end of September.
Developer Blix, which created the BlueMail app, claims that Apple has long been suppressing the rankings of apps in the App Store that compete with its own software.
According to The Washington Post:
The report claims Blix found several apps had experienced similar dramatic spikes in their rankings. Blix's own jump occurred on September 26, just two weeks after a New York Times article alleged that Apple had a system for ranking its own apps higher than competitors. Blix sued Apple in October for patent infringement and antitrust violations, in bringing the suit co-founder Ben Volach said:
He claims that Blix is a particular threat to Apple because its BlueMail app appeals to everyday consumers thanks to its richness in features, compared to the "bare-bones" Mail app on iOS, and its cross-platform compatibility.
Apple removed BlueMail from its App Store over concerns it was a duplication of TypeApp, also owned by Blix. In its filing, Blix says it took down TypeApp before launching BlueMail, and further cited examples where other developers, such as Telegram were permitted to duplicate apps.
Blix further says that "barriers" put in the way of users to prevent them from downloading software directly onto their computers give Apple an unfair advantage, giving it a "monopoly power over macOS applications". It further argues that the layout of the iOS App Store doesn't show users enough search results, only an advertisement and a "story" of its own handpicked apps. Users must scroll further to find other search results. By contrast, Google's Play Store eight apps in its search results at first glance.
It also notes that Apple's apps are the only ones on its App Store without ratings after Apple removed them. More worryingly, it also suggests that Apple intentionally highlighted apps with lower ratings, in order to confuse customers and make them think that there were only low-quality alternatives to Apple's Mail app.
In the suit, Blix states:
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9